Kamloops Blazers to host Kelowna Rockets in sudden death elimination game on Tuesday – Kamloops This Week

Kamloops Blazers to host Kelowna Rockets in sudden death elimination game on Tuesday - Kamloops This Week
Blazers, Rockets to meet in 2019 WHL Tiebreaker Game
Mark Liwiski #9 of the Kelowna Rockets is checked by Joel Sexsmith #47 of the Vancouver Giants during third period on March 16, 2019 at Prospera Place in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.

In what was a crazy ending to the regular season for Kelowna, Liwiski scored in overtime as the Rockets scored a must-win scenario over Vancouver.

"I was going to talk to (Swetlikoff) before the game, but I just gave him a tap,and I felt like he was going to go. Some guys would be discouraged by something like that, especially one that drastic, but he just moved forward."

Entering Saturday night action, Kelowna and Kamloops were tied for the league’s final playoff spot with 62 points each.

After a couple of near misses on a power play in overtime Mark Liwiski, who returned Friday from a three-game suspension, beat David Tendeck off a set-play with Alex Swetlikoff to secure the win and a date with the Blazers.

While Kelowna was playing in overtime, the Kamloops Blazers beat the Prince George Cougars 4-2 in what was also a must-win scenario for the Blazers.

That win pushed Kamloops to 64 points and then Kelowna won, giving the Rockets 64 points as well. Now the two teams will meet in a playoff tiebreaker on Tuesday in Kamloops.

"This whole process has been a learning experience, and later when we look back at this we're going to say this was the best thing that happened to us, that we needed to go through this.

In Prince George, in the dying minutes of the third period, the host Cougars took a 2-1 lead at 14:39. Prince George bested Kamloops 5-4 in overtime on Friday and was searching for a second consecutive upset. The Blazers, though, rallied, scoring at 14:54, 17:15 and 19:11 to win 4-2.

At Prospera Place, the Rockets clung to a 2-1 lead late in regulation time until Jadon Joseph snapped a shot from the right point that appeared to beat a screened Roman Basran to the far corner.

Jermaine Loewen, with two goals, Kobe Mohr and Connor Zary scored for Kamloops (28-32-6-2). Vladislav Mikhalchuk and Cole Moberg replied for Prince George (19-41-5-3).

Dylan Garand stopped 29 of 31 shots for the Blazers, with Taylor Gauthier turning aside 21 of 24 shots for the Cougars.

With a faceoff at centre ice, Swetlikoff sent the puck ahead for Liwiski, who beat his man and muscled his way across the Vancouver blueline and beat Tendeck five-hole.

In Kelowna, the Rockets were up 2-1 after two periods — a lead that held until 19:27 of the third, when the Giants scored to force overtime.

However, seconds later, as the Rockets were getting ready for overtime, the Blazers tied it, and minutes later, took the lead with a shorthanded goal of their own.

By going to overtime, Kelowna was assured at least a point, which temporarily put them in the driver’s seat. And then the Blazers rallied to win while the Rockets were in overtime, which put the pressure on Kelowna to win.

Cayde Augustine got that one back less than two minutes later. His shot from the left boards was drifting toward defenceman Dallas Hines head.

Had the Rockets lost in overtime, or in the shootout, their season would have ended. Instead, Liwiski scored a power-play goal at 3:40 to end the game.

The Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers both won in dramatic fashion Saturday night to force a one-game playoff Tuesday night in Kamloops.

Cayde Augustine and Alex Swetlikoff also scored for Kelowna (28-32-6-2). Justin Sourdif and Jadon Joseph, with the game-tying marker, scored for Vancouver (48-15-3-2).

David Tendeck stopped 32 of 35 shots for the Giants, with Roman Basran turning aside 19 of 21 shots for the Rockets.

At the same time in Prince George, the Cougars snapped a 1-1 tie with a shorthanded goal to take a 2-1 lead later in regulation time.

For Tuesday’s playoff tie-breaker, Kamloops will host because the Blazers won the head-to-head season series with the Rockets. It’s believed this will be the seventh tie-breaking game in WHL history, and that the last three tie-breakers were won by road teams.

The winner of Tuesday’s game will play Victoria (34-30-2-2) in the first round of the playoffs.

With Kamloops and Kelowna finishing the regular season with identical records (28-32-8) and identical points (64), the fact the Blazers won the season series 6-4 means they will host Tuesdays sudden-death contest. Faceoff is 7 p.m. at Sandman Centre.

Calgary, Alta. – The Western Hockey League announced today the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets will meet Tuesday, March 19 (7 p.m. PT) at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops for a tiebreaker game to determine the final playoff berth in the WHLs B.C. Division and Western Conference.

The winner of Tuesdays WHL Tiebreaker Game will advance to the 2019 WHL Playoffs and a best-of-seven, first-round series against the Victoria Royals, who finished the 2018-19 WHL Regular Season second in the B.C. Division.

In Kelowna, the Rockets and Vancouver Giants were tied 2-2 in overtime when Mark Liwiski scored at 3:40 of the extra frame to give Kelowna the win and the chance to play Kamloops in Tuesdays sudden-death elimination game.

WHL fans can watch the tiebreaker game for FREE on WHL Live as a special offering before the 2019 WHL Playoffs begin Friday, March 22. WHL Live Playoff Packages will be made available for purchase Monday, March 18.

With less than three minutes left in the third period and the score tied at 2-2. Connor Zary scored a shorthanded goal and Jermaine Loewen added an empty-net marker to secure the win for the Blazers.

The Blazers and Rockets finished the 2018-19 WHL Regular Season tied for third place in the WHLs B.C. Division and the final playoff spot in the WHLs Western Conference with identical records of 28-32-6-2 (64 points). The Blazers are awarded home-ice advantage in the single-game tiebreaker, having finished with more points in the regular season head-to-head series with the Rockets. In 10 meetings between the two B.C. Interior rivals, the Blazers finished 6-3-1-0 (13 points), while the Rockets finished 4-4-1-1 (10 points).

A dramatic Saturday night provided more than enough nail-biting moments for even the most battle-tested of fans as both the Blazers and Rockets scored theatrical victories to set up for Tuesdays tiebreaker.

Kamloops, coming off a 5-4 overtime loss to Prince George at home on Friday night travelled to the Northern Capital on Saturday and defeated the Cougars 4-2.

In Prince George, the Blazers trailed the Cougars by a 2-1 margin with just over five minutes remaining in the third period before scoring three unanswered goals to secure a 4-2 win. Captain Jermaine Loewen evened the affair with his 27th goal of the season before Connor Zary converted on a shorthanded breakaway opportunity to give Kamloops a 3-2 lead with 2:45 to go. Loewen added some insurance with an empty-netter moments later.

Kamloops and Kelowna were tied for the third and final playoff spot in the B.C. Division entering action on Saturday night, knotted at 62 points each.

Meanwhile in Kelowna, the Vancouver Giants forced overtime with the Rockets after Jadon Joseph scored to make it a 2-2 game with only 33 seconds to go in regulation. With 1:20 remaining in the extra period and the Blazers having just finished off the Cougars, it was Mark Liwiski registering his 11th goal of the season to give the Rockets a season-extending 3-2 triumph.

• Medicine Hat (first wildcard spot/76 points) vs. Edmonton (second overall, first in Central Division/90 points)

All of this caps a quite improbable stretch, as the Blazers erased a seven-point deficit, going 5-0-1-0 to close the regular season in order to catch the Rockets and set the stage for Tuesdays tiebreaker.

• Red Deer (second wildcard spot/72 points) vs. Prince Albert (first overall, first in East Division/112 points)

Loewen – a prospect of the NHLs Dallas Stars – and the Blazers will welcome 2019 NHL Draft prospect Nolan Foote and the Rockets to Kamloops for the first WHL Tiebreaker Game since 2016.

• Kamloops or Kelowna (third in B.C. Division/64 points) vs. Victoria (second in B.C. Division/72 points)

In addition to Loewen, the Blazers are led by two energetic forwards enjoying career seasons – Zane Franklin and Zary. Franklin, a 20-year-old product of Marwayne, Alta., leads Kamloops in scoring with 68 points (28G-40A) in 68 games this season. Zary, a 17-year-old product of Saskatoon, Sask., sits second in scoring on the Blazers, having collected 67 points (24G-43A) in 63 games this season.

• Seattle (second wildcard spot/68 points) vs. Vancouver (first overall, first in B.C. Division/101 points)

For the Rockets, its 19-year-old Kyle Topping – a product of Salt Spring Island, B.C. – leading the team in scoring with 69 points (23G-46A) in 68 games. The 18-year-old Foote – a product of Engelwood, Colo. – sits close behind with 63 points (36G-27A) in 66 games.

Tuesdays tiebreaker game serves as the seventh in WHL history and the first since 2015-16 when the Edmonton Oil Kings knocked off the Medicine Hat Tigers by a 6-4 margin to advance to the 2016 WHL Playoffs.

History of WHL Tiebreaker Games 2015-16: Edmonton Oil Kings (6) at Medicine Hat Tigers (4) 2013-14: Prince Albert Raiders (5) at Red Deer Rebels (3) 2008-09: Edmonton Oil Kings (2) at Prince Albert Raiders (1) – OT 1989-90: Brandon Wheat Kings (4) at Swift Current Broncos (5) 1983-84: Calgary Wranglers (8) at Saskatoon Blades (7) – OT 1980-81: Spokane Chiefs (10) at New Westminster Bruins (9)

About the Western Hockey League Regarded as the worlds finest development league for junior hockey players, the Western Hockey League (WHL) head office is based in Calgary, Alberta. The WHL consists of 22 member Clubs with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A member of the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL has been a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League for over 50 years. The WHL is also the leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 350 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice. Each season, WHL players also form the nucleus of Canadas National Junior Hockey Team.